Microsoft invests another $7 million in Montreal AI research


As if there wasn’t enough buzz around investment flooding into Montreal’s notable artificial intelligence (AI) scene, Microsoft dropped another bomb on Wednesday morning, just like it did last week.

Microsoft today announced that it will double the size of its new AI research and development organization in the city. As part of the investment, Microsoft will dole out $6 million to the Université de Montréal and $1 million to McGill University.

Each “gift,” as Microsoft preferred to called them, will be funded over a five-year period.

The announcement was made earlier today in Davos, Switzerland. According to Microsoft, it marks another milestone in the company’s ambition to make AI more accessible and usable to every consumer, business and developer.

Last week Microsoft acquired Montreal-based Maluuba, a deep-learning research startup. Maluuba is focused on creating literate machines that can think, reason and communicate like humans, which should help advance Microsoft’s work in machine reading and writing.

Founded in 2011 by University of Waterloo graduates, Sam Pasupalak and Kaheer Suleman, Maluuba eventually chose to move to Montreal. They’re now entrenched in Montreal’s growing concentration of the world’s leading AI researchers.

“Microsoft is excited to engage with faculties, students and the broader tech community in Montreal, which is becoming a global hub for AI research and innovation,” said Brad Smith, President of Microsoft.

Microsoft has chosen to focus on Quebec talent, on the know-how of our researchers as well as on our expertise and innovative technologies. In a constantly evolving global economic context, artificial intelligence is a sector at the cutting edge of technology… It’s a sign of recognition and confidence towards Québec’s strengths,” said Quebec Premier Couillard.

Yoshua Bengio is perhaps the driving force behind the community of researchers, a renowned expert on AI and a founding father of the deep-learning movement. Bengio, who heads the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms, has served as an advisor to Maluuba, a role he will continue at Microsoft.

Microsoft also recently invested in Element AI.

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